The British Museum
The British Museum Entrance
The centre of the museum was redeveloped in 2001 to become the Great Court, surrounding the original Reading Room
The British Museum, located in the Bloomsbury area of London, United Kingdom, is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759, in Montagu House, on the site of the current building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of an expanding British colonial footprint and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum of Natural History in South Kensington in 1881 (it is nowadays simply called the Natural History Museum, and is separate and independent).
In 1973, the British Library Act 1972 detached the library department from the British Museum, but it continued to host the now separated British Library in the same Reading Room and building as the museum until 1997. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions.
Facts about British Museum
- Established: 1753; 264 years ago
- Location: Great Russell Street, London, WC1B, United Kingdom
- Coordinates: 51.519459°N 0.126931°WCoordinates: 51.519459°N 0.126931°W
- Collection size: approx. 8 million objects
- Visitors: 6,820,686 (2015)
- Ranked 1st nationally
- Ranked 4th globally
- Chairman: Sir Richard Lambert
- Director: Hartwig Fischer
- Public transit access: London Underground Goodge Street; Holborn; Tottenham; Court Road; Russell Square;
- Website britishmuseum org
- Area: 807,000 sq ft (75,000 m2) in 94 Galleries
10 Things to See at the British Museum
The British Museum is huge. It can be overwhelming for tourists who have no idea on what to see and where to start. With 8 million objects as collections, you can’t see them all in a day. But if you could, you’d be extremely exhausted at the end of your visit. There’s a chance that you won’t remember a thing or two if you intend to see too many objects in a short trip here. So, be like me – see only the things you’re interested to see. But, this doesn’t mean that you’ve got to be so focused on the objects you resolved to see. You’ve got to stop and see the things that capture your curiosity.
Here’s my top 10 things to see at the British Museum. This list can help you plan ahead on what to expect inside, especially if you’re on a short visit.
1. Look up and go around the Great Court
This is the largest covered public square in Europe. At the centre is the world-renowned Reading Room. Fail not to check it out.
The Great Court.
2. Catch sight of the Rosetta Stone
Well, it’s The Rosetta Stone, so there’s no reason not to see it.
3. Stare at the Elgin Marbles
These sculptures are original – and from the Parthenon in Greece.
4. Be awed looking up the Easter Island Statue
This is incredibly huge piece of sculpture.
5. Glare at the marvellously-carved Lewis chessmen
There are 82 pieces of chessmen. The one on the right is the Queen. They’re made of ivory.
6. Admire the Aztec Serpent with Two Heads
Scary but kinda interesting. Look closer and you’ll find that there are mosaics on its body. The teeth are made of shell.
7. Gawk at the Standard of Ur
See the mosaics of its four sides. They each depict a scene of their time.
8. See the Inca Collections
If you haven’t been to Peru, the collections here would make you want to go!
Miniature Gold Llama Figurine of Inca
Mask of Xiuhtecuhtli
Inca Stone Vessels
9. Leer at the Ram in the Thicket
This hungry ram is hiding in a bush in search of food.
10. Take a stroll at the Egyptian Collections Hall
Your window to ancient Egyptian civilisation.
The British Museum is a museum of human history, art and culture. Going inside will make you realise how vast the British Empire once was. Many of the collections here were from the countries where the British once invaded, conquered and ruled.
The British Museum is FREE.